Homeless in Vancouver: Firefox, fired fox! Switching to Pale Moon

There will be no more security fixes for Firefox 28. More to the point, the security fixes for 28 are in the new Firefox 29.01, stuck inside the Australis user interface, which I would like to avoid.

After suffering Firefox 29.01 on my Windows 8 laptop for all of 15 minutes, I painlessly downgraded back to Firefox 28.

But Firefox 28 was (and is) a dead end; a rest stop at best. I needed to switch to a living, updating, version of Firefox.

Because Firefox is open source software—meaning the underling source code is openly available for other software developers to examine and use—there are many “forks” of Firefox to choose from.

Fork you, Firefox!

To cut to the chase, I chose a fork of Firefox called Pale Moon.

Pale Moon is built on the latest Firefox source code but pointedly sticks with an older Firefox user interface—no Australis!

There are three builds for Intel processors running Windows: 32-bit, 64-bit, and Atom processors. There is also one Linux build. There is nothing for Mac OS X.

Installing Pale Moon

Installation was a simple two-step process:

Step One: Download the appropriate version for your computer from the Pale Moon home page and install it as you would any other Windows program you’ve downloaded.

Click to agree to everything. It will put a shortcut icon on your desktop and in your task bar.

You don’t need to let it launch at the end of the installation but you may want to look at it.

At this point Pale Moon doesn’t have your existing Firefox user profile or add-ons. That’s step two.

Step Two: Download the Pale Moon Profile Migration Tool.

Before you double click the program (pm-migrate.exe), make sure neither Firefox nor Pale Moon are running.

The Migration Tool involves almost no user input. It only looks for Firefox and Pale Moon in the standard place Windows puts applications. You cannot point it at other directories. It works or it doesn’t. It doesn’t work on portable versions of Firefox or Pale Moon, which can be anywhere on a hard drive.

If you did let Pale Moon launch after installation and if you tinkered any, the Migration Tool will warn you that it will overwrite any changes you made to Pale Moon. Just agree to everything.

In my case, it appears to have copied over all my user settings bookmarks and and add-ons. And—bonus—alll the add-ons work, though I only use a few:

  • 1-Click YouTube Video Downloader 2.3.1
  • Adblock Plus 2.6
  • EPUBReader 1.4.2.4
  • TinyURL Generator 2.6.1
  • Wappalyzer 3.0.11

Pale Moon has its mother’s tabs, but it’s no clone

Pale Moon’s developers differ with Firefox over several user interface issues. More than that, they disagree with how Firefox has bit-by-bit backed users into a “take it or leave it” corner. Pale Moon is meant to be as customizable as Firefox ever was.

Consider window tabs. Firefox puts them on top of everything, effectively grouping them with the program controls. Pale Moon puts them on the bottom, attaching them to the content window. Pale Moon’s developers are being logical but I think it looks cluttered the way I use the bookmarks toolbar.

It takes all of two clicks in Pale Moon to move the tabs to the top of the window.

Firefox 29.01 took away the option to move the tabs to the bottom. But it can be done using the Classic Theme Restorer add-on.

I can always go back to the fox

If I have a problem with Pale Moon, I still have Firefox 28 to fall back on in a pinch but plan B is to go with a Firefox Extended Support Release.

Firefox ESR versions receive update support for approximately one year. The current version is Firefox ESR 24 which will reach the end of its support life in October 2014. The next ESR version, Firefox ESR 31, will be available soon—next month probably. It will then be fully supported until July 2015.

As soon as I can afford the requisite backup capacity—hopefully well before October—I’m hoping to wipe Windows 8 off my laptop and return to using Ubuntu Linux. That’s because Ubuntu 14.04 seems to work perfectly well with the hardware of my Pavilion G6, including its Ralink wireless chipset.

I don’t expect my specific Windows 8 theme problem with Firefox 29 will carry over into Linux. In that case I would almost certainly just use the latest Firefox with the Classic Theme Restorer add-on. Though my understanding is that it won’t restore everything, like my beloved (sob) bookmarks toolbar.

Comments (10) Add New Comment
I dread upgrading Firefox
First, I really like your tech articles.

I've been dreading updating Firefox lately.

I was on v17 for quite a while, then upgraded to 24.5 (CentOS 6.5). It's not too bad.

But I've got the same profile folder since ... 3.x? Earlier? And a bunch of customizations in about:config too.

I don't even know what the current default Firefox looks like.

Guess I should spin up a KVM of Kubuntu 14.04 and have a look. Don't know if I've ever fired up the desktop of *ubuntu 14.04, just shell access...


Hrm, have IceWeasel on Debian, v 17.x handy, no Kubuntu.

Ok, made a KVM image of Kubuntu 14.04 and it's Firefox v28.


Sounds like PaleMoon is worth checking out fairly soon.


Oh, also, I prefer the tabs on top. Wasn't sure I would, but it's good. And I'm okay without the status bar, though I ran Status4Evar [sic] while easing the transition.


Cheers
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Stanley Q Woodvine
@ I Dread

One of my followers is a dyed-in-the-wool (he's from New Zealand) Debian propeller head.

He upgraded from Ice Weasel 28 to 29. Hated the new Australis user interface but assured me that judicious use of the Classic Theme Restorer add-on fixed all his concerns.

I wonder if there's peer support group for open source developers who are compelled to fix what isn't broken.

Perhaps the Mozilla Firefox team and Gnome just have each other on speed dial.
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jhall
palemoon is firefox esr

when the esr upgrades to the new interface (v31) palemoon will just bake in the classic theme restorer

this is nothing you cant do yourself if you are so inclined
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Stanley Q Woodvine
You're saying Pale Moon is feature-for-feature identical to Firefox ESR 24?

You may be right. I haven't used the the ESR version. But I think Pale Moon is much more than just a rebranded ESR.

It is currently based on the Firefox ESR 24 codebase. However the PM Project History implies the UI is already divergent and the developers insist it will continue to be so.

If you're right FF 31 will be the death of Pale Moon. CTR doesn't restore everything it now has.

The fact remains, if you want to skip Australis, either Pale Moon or Firefox ESR will currently do it in less than five minutes. Monkeying with Firefox 29 and the Classic Theme Restorer takes a lot longer.
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Lestat
Pale Moon will NOT get Australis. Moon Child will when the time has come put all effort in keeping Pale Moon alive without being forced to insert Classic theme restorer.

But that Pale Moon will just integrate CTR in later Versions, this is a plain lie whcih Mozilla does Support and help spreading around. Go to the Pale Moon board and ask Moonchild!

Anyway, Pale Moon was and will stay Australis free, period!
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Lestat
But why using These days Mozilla code based Browsers anyway? Quüpzilla is a REAL open source Project, while Mozilla turns Firefox more and more away from their real open source origin.

These days Mozilla is in the same boat like Apple, Microsoft or Google. I for my part will not Support a shallow remain of a once real and true open source browser!
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Stanley Q Woodvine
@ Lestat

There's an uncomfortable amount of truth to what you write.

Many of us may be following out of sheer momentum and a sense of loyalty.

Mozilla's attempt to bully people into using Australis one way or the other certainly goes against the spirit of open source as I see it.

Then there's Mozilla saying they will put DRM support in Firefox.

And there's the issue of Mozilla being a bit of a sock puppet for Google...

Ninety percent of Mozilla's revenue comes from the royalty Google pays them to be in FF's search engine list.
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Stanley Q Woodvine
Pale Moon's own table comparing features between Firefox ESR, Firefox 28, Australis and Pale Moon:

http://tinyurl.com/oh2erth
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Please, no URL shorteners
Please link directly to source and skip the URL shorteners.


Thanks.
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Harold Hamilton
I wish Palemoon and it's people the best. This is exactly what I love on open-source. It is resistant to various visionaries, who wants to deprive us of our freedom of choice and force upon us their "cool" and fancy looking, yet completely unusable (and for me personally utterly ugly) visions. For, If some visionary-prick screws some project with his "super-cool hauft vision of redefining the metaphor", normal people forks it and leave it rightfully to die. Like it happened with Gnome3, now it happens to Firefox :)
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